April 6, 2021

The Australian Directors’ Guild will mark its 40th year in 2021 and to celebrate this significant milestone, the Guild will launch an expanded calendar of member events, workshops and awards.
Gillian Armstrong pls creditTim Baure


The Australian Directors’ Guild will mark its 40th year in 2021 and to celebrate this significant milestone, the Guild will launch an expanded calendar of member events, workshops and awards.

The first initiative is ADG-40 ‘First-Hand’.  Each Tuesday and Thursday from April 8, the ADG will host 40 short/sharp Zoom ‘mentoring’ sessions in a moderated Q&A format. Each ADG-40 ‘First-Hand’ 60-minute session will be provided free-of-charge to ADG members across Australia with a mix of questions-on-notice and ‘from the floor’ curated to plug emerging members directly into the ADG’s established member knowledge-base and get ‘First-Hand’, real-world guidance on the craft and business of directing and on career progression.

The webinars will be moderated by the ADG’s Strategy & Development Executive Ana Tiwary, with President Samantha Lang introducing the inaugural session mentor – with the ADG’s first president Gillian Armstrong –  at 1pm on the 8th April.

ADG-40 ‘First-Hand’ continues the ADG’s work over four decades advocating for improved directors’ rights and recognition, creating better employment opportunities for directors, developing & advancing member careers, celebrating the Director’s craft and shining a light on new storytelling talent.

Alaric McAusland, the ADG’s Executive Director, said: “After a year we’d much rather forget, our members are crying out to connect with each other to share their stories and celebrate our craft. A particular focus for us in this our anniversary year is new initiatives to inspire and develop our emerging members by connecting them with our celebrated established members.”

Gillian Armstrong said: “The ADG is FORTY! It’s hard to believe its 40 years since a passionate and noisy group of us gathered around my kitchen table to form some sort of guild to protect Australian directors. I am delighted to be part of the upcoming ADG 40 mentoring webinars – First-Hand. So, get your questions ready! I will do my best to hopefully assist and inspire the next generation of director members. We all need each other.”

Ana Tiwary added: “This program will act as a bridge between established ADG members and emerging directors, creating a pathway for knowledge transference and mentoring for the next generation of Australian directors. We are so grateful to all the brilliant directors who are coming on board to generously share their expertise, engage and inspire emerging ADG members.”

In addition to Gillian Armstrong, confirmed mentors so far for ADG-40 ‘First-Hand’ include Rachel Perkins, Rolf de Heer, Samantha Lang, Corrie Chen, Emma Freeman, Ben Lawrence, Ana Kokkinos, Tom Zubrycki, Josephine Mackerras, Robert Connolly, Gracie Otto, Garth Davis, Jennifer Peedom, Jub Clerc and Kriv Stenders.


The origins of the Guild date back to 1981. It was conceived by a Group of 18 directors alarmed that a production fully funded by Government was to be directed by a UK director. Gillian Armstrong agreed to arrange a meeting of directors to discuss a plan of action at her Rozelle home. Gillian went on to become the first president and spokesperson when the guild was formed. From these humble beginnings with board meetings at the local pub the organisation has grown from strength to strength with its unionisation in 2015 and membership reaching 1,200 in 2020.


Gillian Armstrong first garnered attention for her debut feature, MY BRILLIANT CAREER (1979), adapted from the classic novel by Miles Franklin. At the film’s release, Gillian held the distinction of being the first woman to direct a feature-length movie in Australia in almost 50 years. Her feature films and documentaries include STAR STRUCK, MRS SOFFEL, HIGH TIDE, THE LAST DAYS OF CHEZ NOUS, LITTLE WOMEN, OSCAR AND LUCINDA, CHARLOTTE GRAY, UNFOLDING FLORENCE, DEATH DEFYING ACTS and LOVE LUST AND LIES.

Gillian’s feature documentary on Orry-Kelly, WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED, was released to great acclaim. It was nominated for a 2015 AACTA Award, a 2015 AWGIE, 2016 FCCA Awards and screened at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and DOC NYC. WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED has also won Best Documentary at the 2015 ATOM Awards.

Gillian’s films and documentaries have screened at numerous international film festivals including Cannes, Berlin, Singapore, and Sundance. Her films have been nominated for Academy and Golden Globe Awards and received awards from the Australian Film Institute, the Film Critics Circle of Australia, the Houston Film Festival, Festival International de Creteil the US National Society of Film Critics, the British Critics Association and the British Academy.

Gillian was the first President of the Australian Director’s Guild, has received an AM for services to the Australian Film Industry, a Doctor of Letters from the University of NSW and the University of Sydney, and an Honorary Doctorate in Film from Swinburne University. In 2007 Gillian was awarded an ADG Outstanding Achievement Award and in 2008 the Women in Hollywood Icon Award in recognition of her contribution to the film industry.

Gillian was the recipient of the CinefestOZ 2016 Screen Legend award for her outstanding achievements as an Australian director and most recently appeared on a panel at the 2017 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity “Women in Cinema” seminar.

In 2018 at the Australian International Film Forum in New York, Gillian received the inaugural AISF Pioneering Woman in Film Award and in 2019 Gillian received the AIMC Murray Forrest Award for Excellence in Filmcraft.

Gillian Armstrong photo by Tim Baure